LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court during a game. AFP
NBA superstar LeBron James said Saturday he would opt out of wearing a social justice message on the back of his jersey because it doesn't "resonate with his mission."
James, who has often spoken out against racism and police brutality in America, is passing on the NBA's plan to help bring attention to racial inequality by having players wear messages like "I Can't Breathe" instead of their family names.
"I didn't go with a name on the back of my jersey," the Los Angeles Lakers forward James said Saturday. "It was no disrespect to the list that was handed down to all the players."
"I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It is just something that didn't seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal."
James says he wishes he had had some input into the jersey change.
"I would have loved to have a say on what would have went on the back of the jersey. I had a couple of things in mind, but I wasn't part of that process which is OK."
"I don't need to have something on the back of the jersey for people to understand my mission and what I'm about and what I am here to do."
The vast majority of NBA players have decided to pick a social justice message when play resumes in Orlando, Florida.
James is one of just about 17 players out of 285 so far who have opted to continue using their family names on the back of their uniforms.
The list of suggested messages, agreed on by the players union and NBA owners and then made available to players, includes "I Can't Breathe," which is what George Floyd said more than 20 times before he died with a white police officer kneeling on his neck.
Other messages include: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Group Economics; Education Reform; and Mentor.
James said even though he isn't taking part in the jersey messages, he is still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others, especially people in the Black community.
"Being able to use my platform, use the NBA's platform, to continue to talk about what's going on. Because I will not stop until I see real change for us in Black America, for African Americans, for people of color. And I also believe I can do both, though."
James said he always expected to play in the restart to the season: "I am here for one goal and one goal only and that is to win a championship."
LeBron James responded, “Ha! I’m going to say I think you are!! Beautiful follow-thru on that shot buddy!💪🏾🙏🏾”
The Los Angeles Clippers delivered the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history Monday, rallying from a 31-point deficit for a shocking 135-131 win over the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. Lou Williams scored 36 points and Montrezl Harrell nailed a couple of clutch late free throws as the Clippers surprised even themselves to square the first round playoff series at 1-1.
Kevin Durant scored 38 points as the Golden State Warriors made sure they didn’t blow another big lead by routing the Los Angeles Clippers 132-105 in game three of their playoff series on Thursday.
Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic faces six weeks out with a right hamstring injury that could see him miss the start of the English Premier League.
Maurizio Sarri’s reign as Juventus coach ended Saturday after just one season, the veteran manager paying for the Italian team’s premature Champions League exit.
Valtteri Bottas outpaced his Mercedes team-mate and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton by the finest of margins on Saturday to claim a dramatic pole position for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.